New £350K R&D competition tasks tech innovators with solving real-world challenges

A new initiative launched today by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVMC) is seeking innovative UK small and medium enterprises (SMEs) whose technology can be adapted and commercialised to solve societal and industry challenges in sectors that are new to the company. 

The Horizontal Innovation Programme, which promotes the transfer of technology from one sector to another, offers UK SMEs access to advanced technology support to enable their innovation or product to be commercialised and help solve problems in one of seven sector categories: healthcare, agri-tech, energy, food and drink, transport, construction and nuclear. 

The winner in each category will be awarded up to £50,000 worth of applied R&D support to help adapt and scale up their innovation to for use in one of the seven challenge sectors. 

This new Horizontal Innovation Programme builds on the success of its inaugural year in 2016, when the IET teamed up with the Manufacturing Technology Centre to call for UK SMEs to solve a real-life healthcare issue. Warwickshire-based 3P innovation, a growing, high technology business was awarded £35,000 for their idea to repurpose a simple ketchup and mayonnaise sauce ‘squeezy’ bottle technology to help solve the problem of catheter associated urinary tract infections in UK hospitals.

IET President Jeremy Watson CBE, said:

The IET’s Horizontal Innovation Programme offers financial support to SMEs to bring exciting and industry-cutting innovations to market. The UK is internationally renowned for its creativity, research and innovation, but often technologies or processes can get locked into one sector or industry. We want to break down barriers to sharing ideas to enable innovations to be used where they are needed, and not just in the sector in which they are created.

Our aim is to reward and recognise some of the UK’s most promising small businesses in using horizontal innovation to deliver economic and societal benefits.”

HVM Catapult CTO Sam Turner said:

Taking learning and technology from one sector and adapting it to achieve success in another sector, is a core part of what we do. Our work with the Construction Industry for example, involves introducing established manufacturing technologies from aerospace and automotive into a construction setting. This is proving to be a speedy, cost-effective and lower-risk way of innovating which has the potential to create real benefit, particularly for small and mediumsized companies."

To be considered for the programme, SMEs should submit aproposal that demonstrates how their technology solution can be used and commercialised to solve a real-life issue in one of the seven sectors.  

The deadline for applications is Monday 31 July.  To apply, click here.